The headline had to stop everyone who even glanced at Bloomberg’s Technology section: St. Cloud readers (even those who are relatively gimmick-immune) would have been hard pressed to pass up last Wednesday’s Bloomberg Technology headline: “Can This Real Estate Gimmick Save the World?”
Whether the subject of the article really is a gimmick or “the greatest real estate amenity since running water” is yet to be determined—but it’s certainly, at the very least, an intriguing idea. Steve Wynn is intrigued. He’s tearing up the golf course behind his Las Vegas Strip hotels to replace it with an installation. And with 60 of them already in place (and 250 on the drawing board), if it’s a gimmick, it’s one that’s making a large splash beyond the real estate world.
The core of the idea is the creation of gigantic artificial clear-water lakes (“lagoons” is the preferred word). It is hoped that real estate promoters will see the innovation as adding an attraction that turns otherwise featureless landscapes into much more desirable (real estate developer-speak would be valuable) recreational oases.
The whole thing is the brainchild of Fernando Fischmann, a Chilean entrepreneur who calls his company “Crystal Lagoons.” Its website shows a stunning vista of what looks to be an enormous, other-worldly swimming pool—acre upon acre of swimming pool—with a beach visible off to the side, a distant sailboat slicing through the water, people swimming, kayaking, etc. Since this is an actual photograph, it does lend credibility to the immodest claim: “Crystal Lagoons can transform any destination into an idyllic beach paradise.”
Even if (as the video announcer says) the size of any given lagoon is “unlimited,” this alone might not seem likely to save the world. But it turns out that the technology behind it could have wider ramifications…
The idea started when Fischmann set out to improve the murky, bacteria-laden water quality of a developer’s artificial lagoon that had gone bad. A world-wide search confirmed that the technology didn’t exist. Since he was a trained biochemist himself, he decided to see if it could be developed. The result is an ultrasonic filtration system, strategically released computerized “disinfection pulses” (said to release just 1% of the volume of chemicals used in swimming pools or water treatment plants), and a few more patented innovations that combine to create the inviting aquascapes. The CityStars resort in Egypt covers 30 acres.
How does this save the world? Unless your world hinges on selling waterfront condos in bone-dry landscapes, it wouldn’t seem to be the case. The answer is that the technology also uses very little energy and very little water: it’s reclaimed sea water, using a process that requires about a tenth as much energy as previous methods. Maintenance uses a quarter of the water required for a like-sized golf course. And the dream extends to developing systems that cool electric power plants and use the excess heat to power desalination facilities. Since freshwater production figures high on the world’s imminent shortage list…
St. Cloud may not be in line for any million-gallon artificial lagoons anytime soon, but if the technology continues to evolve, I guess we can’t rule it out eventually. In the meantime, we have plenty of our own captivating real estate amenities—they’re showing in St. Cloud properties that are available right here, right now. Call me!